On today’s date in 1814, what later became known as the Battle of Cook’s Mills began with a skirmish between British and U.S. forces during the War of 1812.
The battle took place at Cook’s Mills, a small settlement in present-day Welland, Ont., where the British prevented U.S. forces from penetrating the Niagara Peninsula and effectively ended American plans to recapture the Niagara frontier.
U.S. Brigadier General Daniel Bissell led a force of 1,200 men, including detachments of the 5th, 14th, 15th and 16th U.S. infantry from Fort Erie, Ont., towards the British line along the Chippawa Creek (now known as the Welland River).
Lieutenant general Gordon Drummond, a Canadian-born British army officer and the first official to command the military and the civil government of Canada, ordered Colonel Christopher Myers on a reconnaissance mission towards Cook’s Mills on his right flank to find where the U.S. were vulnerable to attack. With a force of 750 men, including from the Glengarry Light Infantry, the 82nd, 100th and 104th regiments as well as some artillerymen, the British forces attempted to draw the Americans into a battle; however, most U.S. troops remained in a wooded area, and a stalemate ensued.
The British suffered one death and 35 wounded while U.S. casualties numbered 12 killed and 55 wounded.
It was the last battle on the Niagara frontier during the 1814 campaign prior to the U.S. evacuation of Fort Erie the following month. The affair was the last significant engagement between two regular armies in Canada with nearly 2,000 participants from British, Canadian and U.S. land forces.
In 2012, Canada Post released a joint issue with Guernsey to mark the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
While many significant battles raged along the U.S. border in Quebec and Ontario—and many leaders arose—two of the most important were British Major-General Sir Isaac Brock, who was born in Guernsey, and War Chief Tecumseh. The 2012 two-stamp issue, the first in a series marking the bicentennial of the War of 1812, depicts the two men face to face.
In the two-stamp se-tenant format, illustrated by Suzanne Duranceau, the two men are seen in profile. Their facial expressions depict mutual respect.
“The stamp is printed in lithography but with an intaglio feel, a technique that gives the two men equal weight,” said Alain Leduc, stamp design manager.
The background of the Brock stamp shows a European settlement, as it would have looked circa 1812. Chief Tecumseh is shown with encampments scattered around him, indicating that more than one tribe has taken to arms under his command.
“The setting is a visual representation of the motivation for each man—this is what they were fighting for. And the body of water speaks to the dominance of the British naval power,” said stamp designer Susan Scott.
NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada designated the battleground at Cook’s Mills as a national historic site in 1921. Two years later, a plaque summarizing the skirmish was mounted on a stone cairn on the field of action.